The Role of First Language in Second Language Comprehension of informational Text: A Study of Fourth and Fifth Grade Bilingual Hispanic Students


Silvia Graham

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

Spring 2012


This exploratory case study purported to provide insight into the role of first language (L1) in second language (L2) reading. Using think-aloud protocols and retrospective interviews, this study explored the ways 12 upper-elementary bilingual Spanish-speaking students at three different levels of L1 and L2 proficiency used both their L1 and L2 to approach L2 non-fiction reading. In addition, this study attempted to further investigate the question of how L1 and L2 interact during the L2 reading process and in which particular instances L1 aids L2 comprehension. Results showed that there is a clear interaction between L1 and L2 in expository reading. L1 is a catalyst for L2 reading comprehension. The study also revealed that the type of interaction between L1 and L2 is conditioned by L1 and L2 level of reading performance. Well developed L1 skills enable and enhance L2 reading in various ways. Conversely, limited L1 reading skills compromise the interlinguistic transfer of skills and obstruct L2 reading comprehension processes.


Wayne M. Linek

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Leadership